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Man City ‘safe’ as Man United face tough Italian trip


Manchester City’s players take part in a team training session at City Football Academy in Manchester, north west England on November 6, 2018 on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group F football match against Shakhtar Donetsk. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

Man City and Man United resume their European campaigns this night with Jose Mourinho’s men tasked with a tough tie in Italy, reports

City boss Pep Guardiola hailed his side’s sparkling 3-0 win against Shakhtar in the last round of Champions League matches as the best performance his side had produced during his reign as the club’s manager and that was quite a statement given some of the mesmeric displays served up by the Premier League champions in the last 18 months.

“We couldn’t do much against City’s quality and sometimes you have to accept that reality,” says Shakhtar coach Paulo Fonseca. “They are an outstanding team. One of the favourites for the Champions League. It will be even harder for us in Manchester.”

City’s opening defeat against Lyon has been forgotten after back-to-back wins that have propelled them to the top of Group F and a second win against Shakhtar may be enough to secure their passage to the last-16 with two games to spare.

The Shakhtar side is loaded with Brazilian performers and in Samba star, Junior Moraes, they have a player who is in red-hot scoring form this season.

The gulf in class between Juventus and United was not reflected in the final 1-0 scoreline of their clash at Old Trafford last month and the danger for Jose Mourinho and his players must be that they will be embarrassed when they face the same opponents in Turin.

Mourinho was quick to praise Juve’s policy of signing experienced players as he poked a few verbal jabs at his own club’s decision-makers after the game, but the reality must be that a United manager who has spent close to £400 million on new players in just four transfer windows should have built a more competitive team.

Juve have been installed as favourites for the Champions League by some odds-makers and with Cristiano Ronaldo adding some magic dust to their already powerful squad this season, they will be keen to cement that status against United.

Returning to his former club and eager to make an impression, Paul Pogba’s apparent inability to perform for a full 90 minutes in United colours has been an enduring theme of his second spell at the club. He needs to silence his doubters as he plays at the club he describes as ‘his other home’.

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